Issue #266            HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES             May 30th, 2005

Descendant of The Sun
(1983; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Yat gip
Mandarin: Ri jie
English: Sun Disaster

  RATING: 7/10


This energetic Shaw Brothers period fantasy has some amusing parallels to Superman, despite an introductory sequence (consisting of clips from earlier SB productions) stating that it is based on a Chinese legend. After successfully defeating a flying demon, the spirit of priest Yuen Jan-ji travels to a fortress in the frozen north. A villager discovers a male infant encased in the ice there and brings the baby (whom he names Shue-sang) home. As the boy grows up, it becomes apparent that he possesses incredible strength, can levitate people and objects, and talk to animals. He can even cause frozen branches to sprout blossoms and fruit. Upon becoming a man, Shue-sang (who receives his strength from the sun) journeys back to the fortress and encounters the consciousness of his true father, who teaches him how to transform into a super warrior in a flashy gold outfit. After accidentally intruding on the palace grounds, the timid Shue-sang (Derek Yee Tung-sing) is able to save himself from execution by displaying his talents to the beautiful Princess (Cherie Chung Cho-hung). Meanwhile, the kingdom's villainous Regent (Lung Tien-chiang) has been "cleansing" the people by destroying hundreds of infants that he deems to be mentally inferior. Worried that the princess will learn of his activities and put a stop to them, the Regent dispatches assassins to kill her, but they are all foiled by Shue-sang. As in the various adaptations of SUPERMAN, no one is able to recognize this flying avenger (who cannot be harmed by swords and, by this point in the film, was even referred to in the original theatrical subtitles as "Superman") and Shue-sang elects to keep his identity a secret. When the Regent tries once again to kill the princess, Shue-sang’s golden hero saves her. The Regent is not defeated yet: he uses his blood to revive the demon (Ku Kwun-chung), previously confined by Yuen Jan-ji. It proves to be a formidable opponent for Shue-sang, particularly when an eclipse robs the latter of his powers.

Derek Yee Tung-sing L to R: Cherie Chung Chor-hung, Derek Yee Tung-sing

Aimed at general audiences, the film is a diverting, ofttimes frenetic mixture of juvenile fantasy elements and instances of violence one would never find in comparable Western productions (the villains like to rip out the hearts of their adversaries and Shue-sang is attacked by flesh eating zombies at one point). The costumes and rainbow colored set design are gorgeous and possess an East Indian influence not generally seen in more contemporary HK productions. Yuen Bun and Yuen Wah choreographed the plentiful wire-enhanced fantasy action.

Derek Yee Tung-sing Lung Tien-chiang


The old tape and laserdisc versions were center-cropped, though the movie remained quite enjoyable. Obviously, a high-quality restoration would only increase the entertainment and Celestial has delivered on that count. Hues are lovely and detail is excellent. There are the expected foley track enhancements, but the changes are not too disruptive. The standard Celestial extras are included.

Ku Kwun-chung Derek Yee Tung-sing

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Intercontinental Video Ltd. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2005. All Rights Reserved.


- Hong Kong Release

NTSC – Region 3 Only

Intercontinental Video Ltd #104398

Dolby Digital 5.1

Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language

Subtitles: English, Traditional Chinese

12 Chapters

16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)

83 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)


- Ontario: PG

Singapore: PG

Contains moderate violence and horror, and cruelty to animals

10 A Masterpiece
9 Excellent
8 Highly Recommended
7 Very Good
6 Recommended
5 Marginal Recommendation
4 Not Recommended
3 Poor
2 Definitely Not Recommended
1 Dreadful